High Insulin Levels Can Cause Pancreatic Cancer: Study

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Prolonged high levels of insulin can cause pancreatic cancer, finds a University of British Columbia study. Researchers reduced the levels of insulin in mice and discovered that lower levels of insulin protected them against the development of pancreatic cancer. Further, researchers predisposed the mice to the development of pancreatic cancer.

Obesity is the Primary Cause of Hyperinsulinemia 

James Johnson said that pancreatic cancer is not easy to detect and diagnosis often happens at the advanced stages. He is the co-author of the study and professor at Life Sciences Centre, University of British Columbia. As a result, it makes pancreatic cancer difficult to treat. Increasing incidences of obesity along with pancreatic cancer with less than five percent of five-year-survival rate are worrying, adds Professor Johnson.

Hyperinsulinemia is a condition in which the body produces excess insulin to keep a check on blood sugar levels. Further, this condition exists in more than one-third overweight adults. Also, several lifestyle factors and diet regulate this condition.

Senior co-author of the study, Janel Kopp opined that this experiment is the first of its kind that directly examines the hypothesis, in any type of cancer and in any type of animal model. He said that, there is a connection between different types of cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and hyperinsulinemia. The connection between hyperinsulinemia and pancreatic cancer is the strongest.

Scientists crossed strains of mice genetically incapable of producing excessive insulin with those predisposed to the development of pancreatic cancer. Anni Zhang fed the control mice with a diet that would increase insulin levels for a year making them prone to development of pancreatic cancer. After almost a year the mice with diminished levels of insulin had better protection from the onset of the disease.

The findings of the study offer a promising vista for prevention and early detection of pancreatic cancer in human beings. The research was published in Cell Metabolism, a physiology journal.

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